13/02/2007 - 22:00

Emirates thinks big

13/02/2007 - 22:00

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Emirates is hoping to capitalise on expected growth in the Australian travel market by increasing its capacity and doubling the frequency of its flights to 98 a week over the next seven years.

Emirates thinks big

Emirates is hoping to capitalise on expected growth in the Australian travel market by increasing its capacity and doubling the frequency of its flights to 98 a week over the next seven years.

In Perth for the launch of the Super 14 rugby season, Richard Vaughan, Emirates senior vice-president commercial operations East Asia & Australasia, explained that the airline’s flights are near capacity as it brings increasing numbers of tourists to Australia.

Emirates will start negotiations with the Australian government next month for approval for capacity increases, which are in line with air travel growth projections for the Australian market.

A great supporter of offering the fastest way to get from A to B, Mr Vaughan told Business Class that Emirates offered 49 flights a week from four German cities to Perth and 98 flights a week into six UK cities, with Newcastle coming online this year.

The UK and Germany are two of Western Australia’s primary tourist markets, and Emirates offers more one-stop destinations to both than any other airline.

“More than 80 per cent of our passengers fly to and from destinations which Qantas does not serve,” Mr Vaughan said.

Supporting that claim, Emirates has provided Business Class with traffic figures indicating that, in 2005, only 13 per cent of the traffic carried to/from Australia was to London Heathrow and 3 per cent to Frankfurt – Qantas’ two destinations in Europe.

Mr Vaughan also highlighted that the airline has spent $35 million promoting Australia worldwide, while investing $50 million in sponsorships and promotional initiatives.

But away from the inbound tourists, Emirates is providing the WA business community direct and fast connections to critical markets in Africa and the Middle East. Previously, these destinations were only available with convoluted and inconvenient routings.

The airline has also been innovative in offering an early morning flight, which is growing in popularity as the business community realises the significant advantages of taking a daylight flight to Europe.

Mr Vaughan said the feedback from cabin crew was that more and more executives were using the time to quietly prepare for meetings, without the usual interruptions.

The flight leaves Perth at 7am in summer daylight time and 6am for the balance of the year, connecting for a late afternoon or early evening arrival to all major European destinations.

The morning service is now operated by the three-class 283-seat 777-200ER, with the 777 fleet now being refitted with business class beds. The evening service is operated by the larger 358-seat 777-300ER, which are now being delivered from Boeing with the business class beds.

All aircraft on the Perth route are fitted with the airline’s ICE entertainment system, which has more than 1,000 entertainment options. But for those who prefer to stay in touch rather than be entertained, Emirates has signed up for AeroMobile’s in-flight mobile phone capability.

The product is a joint venture between Arinc and Norwegian telecommunications service provider Telenor and will be launched on one of Emirates’ 777s early this year. Calls made are beamed to the ground through Inmarsat’s satellite communications systems already installed on Emirates aircraft and all calls and text messages will be billed to the passenger’s regular phone bill, at rates similar to international roaming rates.

A big plus is that AeroMobile system allows Emirates cabin crew to control the system at all times, such as disabling voice service and selecting text only operation mode for night flights. The entire system can be shut down if required.

Later this year, Emirates plans to add internet access, with the service to support BlackBerry and Palm Treo devices, in addition to mobile data-enabled PDAs and notebooks.

Mr Vaughan highlighted the push into the Americas, which starts on October 1 this year with a six times weekly Dubai-Sao Paulo non-stop service.

“The service is a straight-through connection from the evening service from Perth,” Mr Vaughan said.

The world’s longest-range aircraft, the 777-200LR, will operate on the Sao Paulo service.

Emirates has ordered 10 of the variant plus options, which it will also use to launch non-stop flights to Houston from Dubai before year’s end. The airline plans to launch flights to other US and South American destinations as more 777-200LRs are delivered through 2008 and 2009.

Another new destination this year for tourists is Venice.

Supporting the growth potential, Mr Vaughan points out that the airline plans to add 23 new destinations to the 51 it already serves in Africa, the Middle East and Europe by 2014. To enable this, it has more than 100 aircraft on order, including 45 of the giant 555-seat A380s.

Delays to the delivery of the A380 due to manufacturing issues have slowed Emirates’ expansion plans, although it has managed to secure more 365-seat 777-300ERs to fill gaps and has slowed the retirement of other aircraft.

Emirates, like Singapore Airlines, has a policy of turning aircraft over quickly and the airline’s fleet age is only five years.

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